90 miles hiked total
I dream about my father (he disappeared when I was four, I hitch-hiked to Alaska and found him when I was twenty, he was neither interesting nor kind/wanted nothing to do with me, it was awkward, are we supposed to be similar to/feel some connection to our blood relations? Or is that just a myth). I wake while it’s still dark, to the stars, and can’t fall back asleep. Dangit. I’m definitely PMSing. The full moon is on its way, I’ll bleed on the full moon. Sleeping outside makes me sync up with the moon. Isn’t it beautiful and freeing how many millions of things there are that we don’t understand/won’t ever be able to control…
Today feels like a zero day, even though we hike twenty miles. This is because the day is entirely on trail, with a bit of dirt road thrown in. There is climbing, I don’t pay attention to how much though. Walking without thought is a restful dream, riding my legs uphill like a vespa. Life in the regular world is full of illusions, mirrors, distractions, smoke screens, pavement- here on trail my world is stripped down to its shining steel frame, glinting in the sun. Efficient. One thing at a time. Just three things in total. Maybe four. Walking, eating, sleeping. The fourth thing is longing. Longing is such an underrated human need. Longing gets me out of my sleeping bag when it’s cold, longing gets me over the talus fields, longing drags me up the mountain. Longing sharpens my hours, brightens my afternoons. Longing keeps my blood moving.
We stop at a stream for lunch in Jenny Lakes wilderness. Warm sunshine and trickling water, no other people around. Where is everyone? Then a long descent on switchbacks to Lodgepole, whatever that is. Lodgepole ends up being a cluster of hot, smoky campgrounds at 6,500 feet, packed with people, their RV generators rumbling, and a one mile paved roadwalk to a general store/cafe. I have many desires. We’ve been on trail for seven days and I would like to shower, do my laundry, access wifi, resupply for the next 8 days and eat a great quantity of food. The anticipation of fulfilling these desires thumps inside my chest as we walk the hot, smoky road.
It tuns out that Lodgepole can fulfill some of my dreams, but not them all. A small crowded cafe provides me with a bowl of chili and a paper boat of french fries, which I eat with a good deal of mayonnaise. Flies circle as we eat, landing on the table and away, landing and then away. Our table is the only table with flies. People stare. One could do one’s laundry and shower here, in the building next door. However, there is no wifi or reception, and the grocery store is shit- if we resupplied for 8 days here it would cost an obscene amount of money, and it would all be food we didn’t actually want to eat. What to do? A young man named Addison, who gives tours of the caves nearby, appears, and says he recognizes me from instagram. He’s got a sweet tricked-out cargo van/camper and he can give us a ride to Stony Creek, a gas station/motel a few miles away where there is, at least, wifi. As we navigate the winding road in his van, huge sequoias towering above us, Addison tells us about his life in the woods here- he lives in a forest service cabin from the 1930s, and paints on his days off. He has no electricity, just gas lights. (Follow Addison on instagram here- https://www.instagram.com/raddisoneaton, he is v cool.) At Stony Creek we are at last connected, via the small supercomputers we carry in our pockets and the electromagnetic waves from a box inside the gas station, to the outside world, and we also buy showers and have just enough time before the laundry building closes to give our disgusting clothes a spin. After showering my gamey animal smell is gone, and we buy a gallon of water, a bag of tortilla chips, a jar of salsa and a couple bananas and wander around in the woods until we find the perfect stealth spot, a patch of flat sand beneath the warm stars, water flowing somewhere nearby. I eat the entire jar of salsa and almost all the chips and fall into a fitful sleep, with no idea what tomorrow will bring.